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tv   Fault Lines  Al Jazeera  September 6, 2014 7:00pm-7:31pm EDT

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us. ism richelle carey in new york. my colleague thomas drayton will be back at 8:00 p.m. eastern, 5:00 p.m. pacific. "fault lines: ferg sorn, a city under siege" that starts right now. keep it here. >> ferguson missouri, the spark for what would become daily street protests was the killing of an unarmed african american teenager. 18-year-old michael brown was gunned down by a white police officer on august the 9th. in the days that followed, the police responded to the demonstrations with massive force. >> it's an uprising. we are tired of the police. >> we're sick of being tear-gassed. we're sick of being shot at. all of these young people deserve respect and justice
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>> force is their message. we will shoot, we will kill, if necessary. >> an autopsy would show that brown was shot at least six times - twice in the head. he was the fourth unarmed black man to be killed in the united states by police in the span of a month... the street protests and police tactics brought ferguson into the national and international spotlight. things quickly spiraled - reports of gunshots fired from the crowd, a state of emergency was declared, the national guard was deployed, and the us attorney general launched a federal investigation into the killing. fault lines was in ferguson to witness how michael brown's killing ignited something bigger, exposing tensions that had been bubbling beneath the surface for years. >> on his knees. hands up. >> this is more than michael brown. this is about civilians against
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law enforcement. corrupt law enforcement. >> this is the area ferguson's residents are calling "ground zero" - the epicenter of the protests. when we arrived, it was the fourth day in a row that people were marching along this street - just a few blocks from where michael brown was shot. the police had still not released the name of the officer involved - and people were angry. mistrust of the police here runs deep. while more than sixty percent of ferguson's residents are black, 50 out of its 53 police officers are white. african americans account for nearly 90 percent of police
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stops, searches and arrests. the demonstrators made it clear that they would remain peaceful - and requested the police to do the same. >> we are not out here to start trouble, please don't harass us. >> but for no reason that we could see, the mood shifted very quickly. >> so the police are now bringing out these heavily armored vehicles, so you can see it's a lenco armored truck. this is something that is designed for conflict zones for places like iraq and afghanistan. this is an extraordinary display of force to be honest. these guys are armed to the teeth. there's more riot police arriving, this a crowd of about a 100 people and its been completely peaceful all afternoon. the guys on top of these vehicles are actually training
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high powered weapons on members of the crowd here. >> the police refused to explain why they needed such heavy weaponry. >> sir, do you know why they're bringing this equipment in? >> step back sir. >> do you know why they're bringing in armored vehicles? >> it wasn't hard to see why the crowd would see the police presence as anything other than inflammatory. >> would you like army men w machine guns pointed at your kids? you don't think that's provocative? they provoking it. they asking them to move out of the street - do you see any violence happening here? it's peaceful, they don't have to be here. >> has it been like this the last few days? >> it's been like this for years, for years. >> this kind of policing? >> yes. it's been like this for years, from birth in st. louis.
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>> many people had come from surrounding black communities in the st. louis area - all of them said they feel targeted by law enforcement. they've been doing this and getting away with it. >> so why are things different now with mike brown? >> because people are tired. >> ...put them killer cops in jail.... the whole damn system is guilty as hell... hands up... don't shoot! hands up... don't shoot! hands up... don't shoot! hands up... don't shoot! hands up... don't shoot! >> the police continued to point guns at the protestors - up to this point, as far as we could see, there had been no sign of threat or violence. but the anger over the way police were handling the situation grew. >> only cowards use guns! >> come on, keep laughing. it's funny right. it's funny right.
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>> okay, the gas is coming down now! we're hearing gas fired. the police are saying we've got to leave the area. we're going to get right back now from the police line. the gas is coming down now. there's more gas coming over here! we're going to get out of here now! they're actually firing canisters of gas at us as we're running away. >> you must return to your vehicles or return to your homes. you may no longer be in the area. it is no longer a peaceful protest. you are not peacefully assembling. you must leave or be subject to arrest. >> from where i come from, it is about the children. seeing our children get killed. every footage that i saw of trayvon martin and michael brown reminded me of my son. that could have been my child. >> they take us and they treat us like animals. they make us inhuman. >> what do you mean? >> they break us down, try to strip us of every right as a human. it's about us not feeling like criminals just for driving down
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the street. >> we're supposed to be innocent until proven guilty but we always guilty until proven innocent. >> here it is, this is martial law. this is martial law. >> why are you advancing towards a peaceful protest? that means you are trying to incite. incite urban warfare out here. they are trained for this. >> why do you think they started firing tear gas? >> because they are trying incite a riot out here. they trying to, they're encroaching on our 1st amendment rights. >> wont be no mass incarcaration... when the revolution comes won't be no police brutalty.... when the revolution comes! >> we can hear that noise. the police are now using an audio instrument to try to disperse the crowd. this is a crowd control tool. you can see the protesters are still in the streets and they're saying that they're not going anywhere.
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>> okay, it seems like they're throwing flash bombs now. there's explosions going off. we're not quite sure what the police are firing but there's gas coming down too. we're going to get out of here! >> in a matter of hours, the streets of ferguson had gone from peaceful protest and calls for justice to scenes out of a conflict zone. >> there's a line of police advancing towards the crowd here. there's tear gas everywhere. there's explosions from flash bang grenades. there's another one going off now. >> as the military vehicles advanced, rubber bullets were fired. anyone on the streets - including media - was in the line of fire. the police began to fan out into the surrounding neighborhoods with weapons pointed at people's homes.
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>> it looks like they're firing tear gas into these neighborhoods here. you can see the plume of smoke. just have no idea what they're firing at. >> what if this was your job? what if this was your job? what if this was your job? what if this was your job? what do we want? justice! when do we want it? now! >> as night turned into early morning, it became clear that divisions in ferguson were growing deeper. >> hands up... don't shoot! hands up... don't shoot! hands up... don't shoot! hands up... don't shoot! >> on tech know, >> what if there was a miracle? >> grace's stem cells are in this box. >> that could save the live of your child... >> we're gonna do whatever we can >> would yo give it a try? >> cell therapy is gonna be the next big advance in medicine >> tech know, every saturday go where science meets humanity.
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>> this is some of the best driving i've every done, even though i can't see. >> tech know. >> we're here in the vortex. only on al jazeera america.
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>> michael brown's killing had sparked the worst civil unrest this part of missouri had seen in recent memory...and now, it was getting attention from washington. >> i made clear to the attorney general that we should do what is necessary to help determine exactly what happened, and to see that justice is done. i also just spoke with governor jay nixon of missouri. i expressed my concern over the violent turn that events have
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taken on the ground, and underscored that now is the time for all of us to reflect on what's happened, and to find a way to come together going forward. he is going to be traveling to ferguson... >> after days of largely staying silent, missouri's governor finally showed up in ferguson - promising changes. >> today i am announcing that the missouri highway patrol under the supervision of capt ron johnson who grew up in this area will be directing the team that provides security in ferguson. >> governor, how would you explain the nature of the presence that we saw on the streets yesterday? i mean, there were armored personnel carriers, about 100 police in military-style uniform, high-powered rifles being trained on the crowd, who is in charge of making those decisions and are they going to be held to account for mistakes that you clearly think have been made? >> i think that, that was yesterday, tonight's tonight. tomorrow's tomorrow.
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>> looking forward meant a new face for the police command: captain ron johnson, who was born in the community. >> don't shoot! don't shoot! >> the scene on thursday was very different from the previous night of tear gas and military vehicles. there seemed to be fewer police and those who were there walked the streets with the protestors. the change in approach seemed to lift the mood. but that atmosphere was short-lived. the next morning, ferguson's police chief finally announced the name of darren wilson - the officer who had killed michael brown. but almost in the same breath, he also released this video footage. it allegedly showed brown stealing cigars from a convenience store in an unrelated incident...his grieving family was incensed.
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the motives for releasing the video, and its timing were immediately questioned. >> did he know that he was a suspect in the case or did he not know? >> you say you are concerned by our safety but it seems that you are only concerned by your officer's safety.. >> i'm going to read you a statement here. michael brown's family is beyond outraged at the devious way the police chief has chosen to disseminate piecemeal information in a manner intended to assassinate the character of their son. what's your response to that? >> we have given you everything that we have now and everything that we can give you. so that's... from our police department, we have everything we've got. there's nothing else i can give you. >> what about the timing??? >> michael brown's family held an impromptu press conference outside the police station in response, >> this is just something that people do to try to diverge the attention from what the real problem is... condemning what they branded as an attempt to criminalize him and justify the officer's actions. >> whatever took place there had nothing to do with an individual
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getting down on his hands and knees raising his hands in the air and saying don't shoot! this is the universal call for "i surrender." and i can hear my cousin's voice right now as i speak saying don't shoot. >> down at ground zero later that evening, news of the video's release had spread. people were angry. but instead of trying to diffuse the tension by minimizing police presence, the armored vehicles were out once again. it didn't take long before things started to happen. soon a small group started smashing store windows... >> "hey get the f*ák back,
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get the f*ák back!" >> but then another group of young men quickly moved in to stop the looting. >> why are you standing in here? >> to protect the stores... >> we not all... >> it aint just us... you see it's a group over there... its a group over there... it's a group down there... we're stoppin' everybody from going in the stores you see this store over here... they were gonna set it on fire. >>they were finna burn it! >> for these protesters, there was no question who was to blame for what was happening in ferguson. >> this city keeps the black people down. ferguson, i get harassed on the daily. its f*áked up laws, its f*áked up s*át, it's harassment that go on every f*áking day including myself. including these black males. when you feel like a target, when you feel like a f*áking target how the f*ák you gonna react? >> so the guys protecting the convenience store are saying they blame the police for inflaming the situation for
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appearing in the armored vehicles and the riot gear again and they say that's the reason why people got angry and looted stores. we're going to ask why they deployed like this after everything else that's happened. >> who's in charge here? >> what do you need? >> who's in charge here? >> what do you need? >> i need to speak to the commanding officer. >> stay right here. >> thank you. >> are you the commanding officer? >> no but what we need is for you to get to a safe spot please. >> we've just been spending time with the crowd and they've asked why the police have deployed in this way with the armoured vehicles, and military gear they're -- >> we're trying to maintain safety. >> but why did you feel it was necessary to bring out the armored vehicles? >> we're done talking. we're done talking.
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>> the state had promised a different approach - but the militarized response was back. and no one could tell us why. meanwhile, down the street, the police continued advancing on the protestors. the looting had stopped but it seemed like anger and distrust were growing once again. >> did yall hear about the first riots? >> yeah what did you think? it was an an outcry... that's pure emotion. if everybody feel that way. these kids doing this s*át. these kids have no outlet. you want to know the truth, talk to the oppressed! >> next saturday >> prop 8, really made us think about this process of coming out. >> meet the committed couples
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>> gay marriages, straight marriages... have the same challenges. >> it's all about having the same options as everybody else. >> that fought for equality >> saying "i do" changed everything. >>every saturday, join us for exclusive, revealing and surprising talks with the most interesting people of our time. "talk to al jazeera" next saturday 5 eastern only on al jazeera america
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>> during the protests on the streets of ferguson, we'd met miller, ronald and solomon - they'd been out demonstrating every night since the shooting. they're from northern st louis county - an area that includes ferguson and is predominantly african american. >> tell us a bit about this neighborhood. >> it's the slums...you know. my whole family, ya'll grew up over here you grew up over here in... >> you grew up over here? >> umm huh..yep >> and what kind of a neiborhood is it? >> it used to be a nice neighborhood, years years many years ago. and it was just forgotten about. >> their anger and frustration at the police ran deep. >> they just harass, they just treat you like you don't belong. >> who do?
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the police? >> yea, the police? >> we've got two strikes: black and male. so all we got to do is a miss a blinker and we're stressed out in the middle of the street. >> that's what people say - two strikes? >> you make a face at a cop, strike 3 you're out. you're going to jail for something. >> it's not just a "perception" of unfair treatment >> they've got no connection to them curturally, other than as police officers patrolling the area, and enforcing the law. >> adolphus pruitt is head of the local naacp chapter which filed a federal civil rights complaint against the st louis county police for disproportionately targeting blacks. >> a young black kid can live in an urban area and when he leaves his house and he's going for a walk, or he's going to work, he's going to school, he's subjected to be stopped by the police, he's subjected to be questioned, he's subjected to have to show identification, he's subjected to be run through the system to see if he has any oustanding warrants. and in some cases it happens for no reason at all.
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>> even if they avoid the police, these young men have other odds stacked against them: the unemployment rate for african americans in this county is three times that of whites. >> i mean st louis is probably one of the most segregated communities in the country, both racially and socio-economically. as african-americans move in, whites move out. and what happens also with that is that some of the highest paying jobs, some of the best of the living conditions go with them. >> among black males aged 16 and 24, the unemployment rate here has reached nearly 50 percent. >> we comin back to losing hope. what did we have to bank on after school? i went to college and got my medical assistant. i wanted to be in the medical field. they found out i had a felony, guess what happened? i spent $20 thousand dollars for nothing.
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i get my hands dirty workin on cars now. >> how does that make you feel? >> like a bag of s*át... what i'm supposed to do? >> does it make you angry? >> hell yeah! >> so when people talk about the anger they feel, it's not just about law enforcement. it's about life in general. >> yeah...some people wanna roll over and take it. we got older generations that just be like don't talk to the police like that and stuff like that and we won't be sayin nothing. it's crazy they be like just be quiet, just be quiet. and i be like what happened to freedom of speech? why is mine modified? what happenned? >> long-time community activists like jamala rogers say the underlying discontent is the same that fueled protests in the 60s by the black community. >> so you have somebody who can't find a job, you have somebody who's been marginalized in society and then
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3 or 4 times a week you get hassled by the police. i mean comm'on how much can a young person withstand who doesn't necessarily have the tools to deal with some of the stuff. and sometime it comes up pretty raw. then you have the response of the police department to a community's natural organic reaction to what has happened. and what do they get. they get a militarized police force. that has to do with some systemic, racial issue that need to be resolved. >> the ferguson police department declined our repeated requests for an interview. >> this is bigger than mike brown. this is bigger than treyvon martin. this is about making sure it doesn't happen again. >> don't pacify us for a minute... >> don't throw us a bone and think you're gonna be able to get away with the your daughter and my son. no it stops. it shouldn't ever happen.
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>> after more than 2 weeks of protests, on august 25th, the community of ferguson came together for a day of mourning as michael brown's family laid their son to rest. the family had asked for calm... at st peters cemetery, a crowd of family members and friends watched as michael brown's coffin was buried. as the mourners went home, michael brown's mother said her final goodbyes to her son.
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>> i know a lot of people thought that this was going to be a fly by night situation, fly by night movement, but i tell you what when you aim rubber bullets tear gas at young brothers who ain't got nothing, and they stand there and look them right back in the eye and say, today can be the day! i'm a fan of tupac shakur and he said when it's on it's on for life. it's on for life...you here me? >> the day after the funeral, in downtown st. louis, people gathered to announce the foundation of a new movement. it's called hands up united. >> seems like everywhere we go, we get laid down and get executed. >> well the demonstrators here say they are going to march to office of the us attorney here in st louis and they are calling for a nationwide investigation of systematic police brutality. the us depatment of justice later announced it was launching a broad civil rights investigation into the
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practices of feruson police department >> i am mike brown! i am mike brown! separtate from it's investigation of the michael brown shooting. >> i believe that we will win! i believe that we will win! i believe that we will win! i believe that we will win! >> but for this group. and the community they represent the underlying message is unlikely to change - that there calls for justice are bigger than michael brown - they're about fighting to change a system that's stacked against them from birth. >> we ready! we coming! we ready! we coming! >> a crisis on the border >> they're vulnerable these are refugees. >> migrant kids flooding into the us. >> we're gonna go and see who's has just been deported. >> why are so many children fleeing? >> your children will be part of my group... >> fault lines, al jazeera america's
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